I’m trying really hard not to become a woman who is constantly on a man-bashing bandwagon. Patriarchy makes it very difficult, and a large number of men causing a large number of women harm every day makes it even more so. But I’m trying. Not because I believe my energy should be expended towards holding consistent sympathy for men, but because the consistent outrage is actually exhausting.
My empathy towards the male gender, when expressed, is mostly for self-preservation purposes. With that being said, however, this doesn’t extend to the place of International Men’s Day in my world, Beyoncé’s world, or Wangari Maathai’s world, and here’s why.
Why do we need International men’s Day (IMD)? Are men’s rights at stake and thus we need to be refocused on them or was this created as a reaction to the existence of International Women’s Day (IWD)?
Related: International Day Of The Girl Child
Let me backtrack. First things first, a quick review of International Women’s Day (IWD), the more known and celebrated day of the two. IWD, celebrated on 8th March annually, is a day set aside as a connection point in the women’s rights movement over 100 years ago. In its earlier years, it was commemorated through protests and demonstrations by the civil rights and feminist movements, and to this day, it’s still a platform to articulate and agitate for women’s rights.
There is space given ONCE a year for women to be the focal point and receive the honour they deserve. This is because we live in a man’s world, where systems ensure the continuous oppression of women and the infringement of their rights. So ONE day in the year, most of the world comes together (some countries don’t commemorate this day) to say, you know what, women have the shorter end of the stick in society, let’s give them a break and try and do better by them. It’s not enough, but it’s something. It’s one small step towards a more equal society.
Okay, now back to IMD, and I’ll try to be as open-minded and empathetic as I can. IMD is supposed to be a day where we celebrate men, their achievements, and many other things they accomplish in spite of the fact that the world makes it infinitely easier for them to do so. But careers, leadership, access to education, physical protection, and more, was preserved for men alone, so why must they get flowers for then doing the things they ensured they would?
There is a lot to celebrate. Extensive contributions in all parts of society in several fields, for example: it was a black man who invented peanut butter. It is a black man who is currently at the top of the motorsport world (Lewis Hamilton, in case you were wondering). It is a black man, Eliud Kipchoge, who is the first person to run a marathon in under two hours. Of course, the role of men in our world is undeniable.
Our existence depends on it. But really, in a world where over the counter contraception for women is a recent invention and most of my family and community thinks that my uterus belongs to them - why would we be giving any more focus and power to men? The number of women presidents and prime ministers is still a handful, and Kenya is nowhere close to even having a balanced leadership system - be it in government or corporate, if the recent 2/3 rule, or lack thereof, in parliament, is anything to go by. At the risk of turning this into ‘Oppression Olympics’, until there are clear moves made to level the gender playing field, I have absolutely no interest in learning more about or celebrating IMD.
Do you agree with Jess? Do we need a day specifically for men?